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LP-A puts school on ballot

If the Minnesota Department of Education grants its approval, as expected, residents in the Lake Park-Audubon School District will vote Nov. 4 on a $19.67 million schools project.

School Board members voted unanimously last week to put the building bond referendum on the general election ballot.

Some board members had wanted to put a $3 million bond referendum before voters to fix up the elementary school in Audubon.

That died in part because the district would have had to complete and submit a new plan for review, causing the district to miss the deadline for putting the measure on the November ballot. (The state has up to 60 days to review a document).

Another complication, Superintendent Dale Hogie said, was the uncertainty of state approval -- with the primary missing component being action to address deficiencies in the high school building.

It may also have failed to pass politically, as several board members made clear they would not have supported it.

The $19.67 million plan passed unanimously on a roll call vote.

The project includes a new 7-12th grade building on a donated site in Lake Park and some demolition, new construction, and partial renovation of the Pre-K-6th grade building in Audubon.

The anticipated tax impact on the 20-year bond is $162 on a $100,000 residence.

The project is expected to cost about $20.14 million, with the difference between the bond and the cost made up by interest earnings by the district prior to paying the contractor.

Hogie noted that the bond for this proposal is $6.16 million less than the Dec. 18, 2007 proposal for questions 1 and 2 on the ballot.

"The difference from the prior proposal is at the elementary site," Hogie said. "The boiler will be replaced, heating and ventilation will be improved throughout the building, handicapped accessibility issues will be addressed, and new furniture will be purchased."

In addition, four new classrooms, a new boiler-mechanical room, and storage areas will be constructed.

The existing shop area will be renovated into three new classrooms, and two sets of restrooms will be added.

The 1922 building will be demolished to make room for a parking lot.

At the meeting, Board Member Rick Olson argued for the project, saying that because of inflation, which could cause construction costs to soar, there will never be a cheaper time to do it.

"It's never going to cost less," he said.

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